I’m not sure I have ever seen fish in such fantastic condition as I have seen this year. It started with the early MSW salmon – which were bursting out of their skins, being that well fed – but now the grilse are appearing in the same fabulous condition. We might have to rethink some of the theories about salmon not finding food at sea!

Again we had a week of local fishing (the last before the visitor fishing tenancies are allowed back on next week) and we had another good week of sport with 21 salmon and grilse landed. The vast majority of fish landed were bars of silver running straight off the tide. There were countless plucks and losses as well as the grilse are appearing in numbers now and are soft mouthed and on the move.

Spean Bridge angler Rory Campbell had another good week fishing the odd evening here and there landing fish of 13lbs, 11lbs, 12lbs and 4lbs. But John Macisaac had a true red-letter day on Friday (a day when there were as many fish running through as I have seen for a long time) and had a daily total of 4 with two over-sized fat grilse from the Falls Pool, a salmon of 10lbs from Garrabouie Stream and another grilse of 5lbs from Upper Camisky.

Many other local anglers were successful this week but heaviest fish of the week was a stunning fresh summer salmon of at least 15lbs that fell to Richard Macdonald in Falls Pool.

Final mention must go to young Josh Diuguno who landed the first salmon of fishing career on Mucomir Pool – a cracking wee grilse of 4lbs. Well done him and here’s to many many more in the years to come!

Josh Diuguno with his grilse from Mucomir Pool – his first salmon.
Local rod Rab Lees lands another summer salmon in a good season so far for him
Richard Macdonald’s 15lbs fresh-run fish from Croy
John Macisaac with a grilse from Croy – John had a 4 fish fish day this week
Jon Gibb with a 10lbs fresh summer salmon from Mucomir

All in all there was some good sport for the few local rods out fishing this week. The noticebale drop in both air and water temperatures undoubtedly contributed to this and a total of 20 salmon and grilse were landed. The fish were in the most part split fresh and in the teens of lbs. Their condition was phenomenal – as the photos below testify. There was a also a mixture of fin clipped (hatchery origin) and pure wild fish – apart from the missing adipose fin you could not tell them apart in any way.

We can only speculate what catches might have been this week if the visitor lockdown had been lifted already and our visiting fishing parties were here fishing all the available rods.

There was also a really noticeable number of fish being lost too (probably a sign that the fish were running hard) and local couple Steve Wellard and Jenny Cooper suffered this particularly badly in a tale of woe that included 8 lost fish in a row, straightened hooks, broken 18lb line and a broken rod section (Don’t feel too sorry for them though – they landed 4 fish between them up to 15lbs for the week as well!)

There were too many catches to list them all this week but well done to all rods who scored. Particular mention however must go to 2 local anglers who both had ‘firsts’ this week. FWAA member Martin Kewczuk landed his first salmon after 3 years of patiently putting the hours in – a 12lbs fish from Mucomir. And fellow club member Harry Nicholson scored with his first fly caught salmon – a 15lbs fish also from Mucomir.

Here are some of the fish caught this week….

An absolute Lochy bullet – fat and bursting out of its skin – 15lbs DJ Gillies Falls Pool
Rab Lees 15lbs bar of silver Loy Mouth Beat 2
Harry Stevenson’s first fly caught salmon – 15lbs Mucomir
Robert Ralston 13lbs Loy Mouth
Martin Kewczuk’s first salmon – 12lbs Mucomir Pool
James Porter 10lbs FIN CLIPPED salmon – Falls Pool
Craig Stevenson 8lbs fresh salmon Mucomor Pool

It was another week of far from ideal conditions with water temperatures in excess of 60F and the weather hot and sultry. Neverthless due to reasonable river levels the fish kept running and (despite the fishing effort remaining low due to the continued travel ban) a pleasing 12 fish were landed for the week with the usual high numbers hooked and lost. The catches were once again made up of ‘wild’ and ‘hatchery-origin’ (fin clipped) fish. It is most encouraging to see good numbers of 2sw salmon returning from our smolt programme this year, especially as their condition is really superb.

Charlie Helmore got the week started with a fresh 10lbs salmon from Croy – later on in the week he had 12lbs fish from the tail of Upper Camisky and another 12lbs fin clipped fish from the same pool.

Another rod to score well this week was Spean Bridge angler Rory Campbell – he started with a lovely fat 9lbs fin clipped fish from Graveyard Pool, which he added to later with a 13lbs salmon from Upper Camisky. And then on Saturday, ably assisted by his 2 young children (see photo), he landed one of the first grilse of the year, a fresh-run 6lbs fish from Falls Pool.

Paul Machugh is usually never far out of the action if there are fish to be caught and this week was no exception. He took a really fine trio of fish – 10lbs fin-clipped from Potholes, a fresh 8lbs salmon from Big Rock and the heaviest fish of the week, a 17lbs specimen from Potholes.

Rab Lees also scored well landing 13lb and 9lbs salmon both from Pollock on Beat 2. The final fish of the week was a 10lbs sea-liced salmon of 10lbs at the Tailrace tidal beat caught by John Macisaac.

With rain never far away in the forecast it is hoped that river levels will remain up for the coming week – a drop in air and water temperatures would be particularly welcome.

Rory Campbell 13lbs Upper Camisky
A Campbell family effort lands a 6lbs grilse on the Falls Pool
Rab Lees with the bigger of his two fish from Pollock on Beat 2
Rory Campbell’s fat 9lbs fin clipped (hatchery-origin) fish from Graveyard Pool

The week saw far from ideal water conditons with some very coloured water running from the upper catchment for most of the week with a landslip suspected somewhere in the headwaters. When this eventually cleared there was no generation from the dam at Mucomir to keep the level up and the river dropped away rapidly to dead summer low.

Hardly surprising then that much of the action for the week was seen on the tidal Tailrace beat. It was encouraging to see numbers build here on each tide – even though they were hard to tempt to the fly

Chris Cairns landed a perfectly formed fin-clipped fish of 11lbs (which will have been released as a hatchery smolt in Spring 2018) swiftly followed by a cracking fresh salmon of 10lbs. He lost a third fish as well in a brief spell of frenetic sport.

James Porter fished hard all week and was rewarded with another fin-clipped salmon, this one was again perfectly shaped and tipped the scales at 14lbs. Again this will have been from the 2018 smolt release cohort.

DJ Gillies was also rewarded for the efforts he has been putting in so far this season with a sparkling 8lbs fish towards the bottom of the beat at the bend above the Larder Pool – an interesting taking spot that gets very lightly fished these days.

The shape of the fish has been particularly pleasing so far this year and Andrew Shaw’s salmon of 15lbs from the Beat 2 Potholes was no exception. This was the heaviest fish of the week and a perfect example of an early summer Lochy salmon. I also managed a fresh run beauty of 12lbs from Lower Camisky before the water ran right off.

Finally, huge congratulations to local rod and new Fort William Angling Club member Seymour Macleod this week – fishing Beat 4 Seymour landed a fresh run fish of 5lbs from Kitten Pool. It was his first ever salmon. Well done Seymour!

Chris Cairns 11lbs fin clipped salmon Tailrace
James Porter 14lbs fin-clipped salmon Tailrace
James Porter’s 14lbs fin clipped (hatchery released) salmon
Chris Cairns 10lbs salmon Tailrace
Andrew Shaw 15lbs salmon Potholes Beat 2
Jon Gibb 12lbs Lower Camisky
Seymour Macleod’s 5lb fish from Kitten on Beat 4

In what was a very lighly fished week (due both to local fishing only and a particularly off-putting downstream gale midweek), the end result of 10 salmon landed was a reasonable result.

At this time of year you have to be lucky to have a taker in front of you as the majority of fish are travelling fast to the cooler depths of the headwaters. There were, however, signs that fish were beginning to hold up in some of the known resting lies slightly longer as the water started to fall away in the second half of the week.

The quality of some of the salmon was absolutely tremendous – really well conditioned and fat fish. Scale reading revealed that most had spent 2 winters at sea. They must be finding food somewhere in the ocean!

Leading the weights was Paul Machugh’s fish from the Tailrace – a sea-liced 18lb bar of silver. The fishing gods shone on me for a change and, fishing known resting lies sporadically through the week, I landed some absolutely cracking early summer salmon of 16lbs, 15lbs and 14lbs.

Craig Macisaac added to his season’s tally with an 8lbs fresh-run fish from Camisky and Rab Lees landed a fish of a similar size from the Tailrace.

Steve Wellard had a great evening on Beat One landing salmon of 13lbs in Croy and 10lbs in Rock Pool, as well as losing a third in Jetty. All fish came to his homemade green and black Samurai. Rory Campbell also took a brace during the week while out after work for a quick cast with a fish of 10lbs from Pollock and 8lbs from Lower Camisky.

With water fast disappearing the rain forecast for this coming week cannot come soon enough. Let’s hope it is enough to top up the lochs, keep the river flowing and the fish running.

Craig Macisaac with his 8lbs fish from Camisky
Some superb quality early summer salmon landed this week of 14lbs, 15lbs and 16lbs from Croy, Kitten and Big Rock
Rab Lees 9lbs from the Tailrace

COVID 19 RESTRICTIONS FOR FISHING ON THE RIVER LOCHY IN 2020

It is necessary this year to put in some restrictions on the fishing in order to keep our staff and customers safe during this pandemic. We do hope that you understand and we apologise for this temporary inconvenience. Should the situation or national guidelines change we will be issuing updated advice. Thank you for your assistance – together we can all enjoy the river and the fishing in spite of the difficulties at the moment.

Camisky Fishing Room, Car Park and WC

Please note that these are now all out of bounds. Please do not use the car park at Camisky Steading. The Fishing Room and the WC will be locked at all times.

Monday mornings (or first day of fishing)

Starting beats are listed below – please note these are listed for a Monday start so please go up 3 beats if you are fishing a half week starting Thursday.

Please start fishing at your convenience. Billy Neil, the Fishing Coordinator, will be visiting each beat between 9am and 10.30 am in rotation starting on Beat One. Please will the head of the party stay relatively close to the hut on each beat so Billy can come and see you.

If you require any advice or directions to your beat etc. please telephone Billy on 07484 841729

Boats, huts and other

All boats are all out of bounds and locked (Billy can give advice if you wish to drive round to the right bank and fish – or advise if the river is low enough to wade across at certain points. Please ask first.)

All huts are out of bounds and are locked. Outdoor tables may be used but the use of personal hand sanitisers etc are advised. Please also be aware of touching the gates on Beats 1, 3 and 4.

If a ghillie has been employed please respect the 2m rule at all times – ie there will be no tying on of flies, taping rod joints etc

There will be no Catch Return forms this year. All catches should be reported to Billy Neil. IT IS VITAL THAT YOU CHECK FOR ADIPOSE FIN CLIPS. PLEASE TELL ALL OF YOUR PARTY. ALSO PLEASE WHERE EVER POSSIBLE TRY AND PHOTOGRAPH YOUR FISH (IDEALLY WITH YOU HOLDING IT CLOSE TO THE WATER) AND SEND ALL PHOTOS TO JON GIBB OR BILLY NEIL BY TEXT OR WHATSAPP.)

Once again, we know these restrictions limit what we are normally able to do on the river but we very much appreciate your cooperation as we all get through this difficult time. Thank you.

The week was characterised by the speed with with the fish were running off the tides and through the private beats. The turbine at Mucomir was generating hard through the week and this kept the river higher than we would have liked. There was no reason for the fish to stop. Just when the river dropped back to a level where fish might be expected to settle a bit more, the rain started and the river shot back up again.

You always know when fish are running hard with the amount of fish lost and tales of seemingly solid takes not resulting in hook ups. Unsettled and moving fish just do not take as well and are often lip hooked or they just brush the fly. No less than 5 fish, for instance, were lost at the lip of the Falls Pool – one of the classic running lies on the river. Hooks were straightened and 18lbs leaders smashed as fish could not be held against the force of the current and they headed back down over the falls.

Neverthless there were successful connections made during what was a fairly lightly fished week (only local fishing is permitted at the moment). Steve Wellard had a good week with a 10lbs bar of silver from Lundy Mouth straight off the tide and then a 12lbs solid early summer salmon from Upper Camisky. Perhaps more surprising though was the 6lbs fish (presumed to be a grilse) that Charlie Donaldson landed in Rail End on Beat 4 and the 5lbs fish (almost certainly a grilse) that Rab Lees took in the Castle Pool. Unfortunately no scales were taken for reading. It is normal to see a run of grilse (mostly males) that tend to follow the early MSW salmon into the headwaters – this run usually precedes the main run of grilse but is still a couple of weeks earlier than we might expect.

All in all though despite the conditions being against us it was good to see fresh fish running through the river on most tides this week. Realistically we need the river to start filling from the top and the levels to settle down before we can expect the fish to start resting in the private beats.

Steve Wellard 10lbs Lundy Mouth
Steve Wellard 12lbs Upper Camisky

Well it was a long time coming but at last we were allowed out to fish again. With only 2 days left in the month we have lost one of our prime spring months so there was a lot of catching up to do. The weather conspired against us though with wall to wall sunshine, but the local rods (all that is permitted for the moment) did well to get some fish in the book. And some cracking fish there were too.

John McIsaac got the scorecard started with a cracking 15lbs fish from Mucomir Pool not long after dawn. Several more fish were lost and seen. He matched this later in the day with a 10lbs fish from the lip of the Falls Pool on Beat 3 on a small Cascade. The McIsaac family are hot favourites to lead the early season charge on any highland river in these parts, and Craig McIsaac proved the point once again by landing a stunning 22lbs Lochy springer also in Mucomir Pool.

Paul MacHugh was in the action down on the Tailrace Beat with a spanking fresh 15 pounder. Meanwhile John Veitch used his usual Sunray Shadow tactics in the lip of the Falls Pool and took a gleaming 10lb fish. Not wanting to be left out of the action, I went out in the evening and was rewarded with a stunning 12lbs typical deep-bellied Lochy springer from Pollock on Beat 2.

So all in all a great start – there are as many fish visible in the system than I have seen by this time in the season for many years. Maybe they have benefitted from the lack of attention. Maybe it is a sign of a good early summer salmon run ahead. Time will tell. But one thing is for sure – everyone agreed that it was mightly fine to be out fishing again!

John McIsaac 15lbs Mucomir Pool
Craig McIsaac 22lbs Mucomir Pool
John Veitch 10lbs Falls Pool
Paul MacHugh 15lbs Tailrace
Jon Gibb 12lbs Pollock

The River Lochy Association has advised all of their existing tenants of the following with regards their 2020 bookings on the river –

Bookings for May and June – tenants have the option of rolling their deposit forward to use in a booking for later this season (after 1st July) or the 2021 season. Any difference in the price of the week will be payable. If the tenant wishes to rearrange the week, then instruction should be given within the next fortnight.

Bookings for July to October – As the current Government movement restrictions due to Coronavirus are in place until 13th April, we intend to write back to all tenants with advice on the status of their booking within a couple of days of this date. This advice will depend on the nature of Government restrictions given at that point.

The catch returns from 2019 are now collated and can be viewed below.

In what was an incredibly wet year, with a river that was unfisable for much of the time and with a much lower rod fishing effort than in recent seasons, the rod catch of 216 salmon and grilse was perhaps reasonably encouraging. It is the largest catch for 3 years.

Had the river been fully fished, or in better order for longer, the total could have been a great deal higher. Especially encouraging was the presence of reasonably good numbers of 1sw grilse that ran all the way through the year from late June to mid September. We have not seen this extended grilse run for a couple of years and this might point to better times ahead (have the fish begun to adapt to whatever problems are facin g them as 1sw fish at sea?) The 2sw salmon run in 2020 could be very interesting to watch as it might point further towards better runs in the coming years.